Michigan Leads States in Unemployment Rate

Monday, 22 Dec 2008 04:02 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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The Center for American Progress reports that in a new study of unemployment, Michigan is now leading all her sister states with an unemployment rate of 9.6 percent.

Immediate runners-up are Rhode Island with 9.3 percent, and California and South Carolina with unemployment rates of 8.4 percent.

A startling 27 states have an unemployment rate of at least 6 percent, and nine states have lost at least 2 percent of their total jobs since their employment level peaked during the recovery of the 2000s, notes the report.

The new state unemployment data indicates that the general labor market is struggling across the nation. In fact, the economy dropped 1.3 million jobs over the past three months -- the largest three-month loss in over 30 years.

Meanwhile, the overall unemployment rate has spiked to 6.7 percent.

With high unemployment gaining ground across the country, the subject of unemployment benefits has become paramount – not only for its vital safety net, but to provide important economic stimulus to the economy overall.

The four-week moving average number of people applying for unemployment benefits is 543,750 -- the highest since December 1982, cites the Center.

According to the new data, more than 3 million workers ran out of benefits over the past year before they found new employment.

Meanwhile, Congress extended the duration of unemployment benefits in June and then again in November. Still in a holding pattern, however, is the Unemployment Insurance Modernization Act, or UIMA.

UIMA would increase the number of workers -- particularly low-wage workers -- eligible for benefits.

Over the last year, 60 percent of unemployed workers are not receiving any unemployment benefits. This means they are necessarily spending way less in the marketplace.

The Center’s report emphasizes that extending benefits to more unemployed workers should be a major component of the economic recovery package.

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